Egmont candidates back medical school for P.E.I.

An idea that was a prominent part of the provincial NDP's spring election campaign on the Island is finding support in the federal election campaign from candidates in the western P.E.I. riding of Egmont.

Housing, cost of living also big issues

An idea that was a prominent part of the provincial NDP's spring election campaign on the Island is finding support in the federal election campaign from candidates in the western P.E.I. riding of Egmont.

The idea got little traction with other parties in the provincial campaign, but during a roundtable on CBC's Island Morning, all four Egmont candidates said they were on board with the idea.

"I really think it's time that we fully explore the opportunity of locating on Prince Edward Island a medical facility to train Islanders here," said Liberal candidate Bobby Morrissey.

Morrissey described the idea as a good, long-term solution to the doctor shortage on the Island. The other candidates agreed.

All four candidates would like to see a medical faculty at UPEI. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"I'm personally in support of it. I think it would be a great opportunity for Prince Edward Island," said Conservative candidate Logan McLellan.

NDP candidate Sharon Dunn said the doctor shortage has come up in almost every home she has visited. She said the NDP has already been talking to UPEI and communities about the possibility, and noted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has come out in support of the idea.

Green candidate Alex Clark took the question a step further, saying there needs to be more support for post-secondary education in general.

"We're hoping to provide free education to post-secondaries to provide more services that we desperately need," said Clark.

The housing crisis

Housing is a big issue in the federal election: nationally, provincially, and in Egmont.

Clark said investing in new housing is crucial, but added more immediate solutions are available by making more use of housing that is currently being used for vacation rentals.

He proposed a tax on vacation rental companies, and finding ways to make more efficient use of those buildings for housing people.

Morrissey said the federal government has been working on the issue.

The idea of a medical school needs to be explored, says Bobby Morrissey. (CBC)

"We've introduced the National Housing Strategy, the single biggest financial commitment to housing in the history of the country, over $10 billion over nine years," he said.

He pointed to projects underway through that strategy in Summerside, Wellington, O'Leary and Alberton.

McLellan supported investment, but said in his discussions with developers he has found they are being held back by red tape.

"There's a lot of barriers of entry. Basically, the developers don't want to build," he said.

"We have to address these issues and we have to figure out what is stopping them. Red tape is something that keeps coming up."

Logan McLellan is concerned about red tape for developers. (CBC)

Dunn said creating housing does not necessarily mean working with developers.

She pitched housing co-ops as a solution.

"Everyone works together. They have to contribute so many hours a month to the co-op, so we wouldn't have to be solely dependent on developers," she said.

Cost of living

With an average income in the riding of just $22,000 a year, the cost of living is a major issue for Egmont.

McLellan said the income is a reflection of the large number of seniors and seasonal workers in the riding, and said new opportunities are needed.

He said he would like to bring a tech company incubator to Egmont — like Startup Zone in Charlottetown.

Both the NDP and the Greens touted the opportunities for green technology in the area.

Alex Clark wants to see more restrictions on vacation rentals. (CBC)

"Along with green technology we're bringing 300,000 good jobs that will pay well in the energy sector developing new types of energy," Dunn said of the NDP's national plan.

"We don't have oil, but we do have sun, sometimes, and we have lots of wind," added Clark.

He also said there were opportunities to grow niche crops in the riding.

Morrissey said the Liberals have been growing the local economy, with a focus on aerospace and seafood processing, but he also discussed how the Liberals have been making life more affordable.

The Canada Child Benefit is bringing $25 million a year to families in Egmont, he said.

He said the economy is strong in Egmont, and there are jobs going unfilled.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


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